Saturday, June 27, 2009

My Sunday Feeling

I know. Mark Sanford is old news. Michael Jackson, the so-called King of Pop, checked out under appropriately mysterious circumstances last week, pushing Sanford and his marital and political woes off the front page. At least for now.

From my perspective, the Sanford affair is more interesting than the death of Wacko Jacko. It is not unusual for crazy people to come to a bad end. And one had but to gaze upon Jackson's bleached out and oft retrofitted face to come to the inescapable conclusion that he was palpably insane. And so, MJ predictably snuffed it under the care and supervision of some shady cardiologist from Vegas while preparing for a world tour to try to put a dent in the ruinous debt load he had accumulated.

Crazy people come to bad ends. Not every Bible banging fiscal conservative Presidential aspirant has an Argentine hottie on the side. Now THAT'S interesting.

But let's not make too much of this. Most of us have done something stupid with our pants off. At the very least, we all have secrets we would just as soon nobody ever finds out about. Maybe we didn't do anything criminally stupid as did the aforementioned KOP, but we have all done stupid. Over sex. With money. In our professions. Sometimes stupid just pops up and knocks on the door. And we let it in.

But not all of us are in the public eye. And not all of us have staked out moralistic positions about our fellow human beings to induce the electorate to vote for us. Even still, my position is that if Mrs. Sanford can live with it, the good people of South Carolina ought to live with it as well. Sure, the fact that the Governor was catting around with a Latina version of his soul mate is plenty creepy. But if she can live with it, who are we to substitute our judgment?

Except for one thing. If I decide to blow the country it is pretty much nobodies business. But I have not opted for a public life with a public schedule. Mark Sanford up and blew the country leaving the entire apparatus of state government in the lurch. What possessed him to leave the country? I mean, those planes go both ways. Surely, he could have been sufficiently clever to somehow bring her over if he just had to see her. Poorer judgment cannot be imagined. And just because he paid the money back to the state coffers that financed one of his junkets doesn't mean that he didn't violate the criminal laws.

The affair it self is not that interesting. But the circumstances surrounding it and the fact that Mark Sanford thought he could keep this quiet are.

No. It is not unusual for insane people to have a bad end. Come to think of it, maybe Michael Jackson isn't the only whack job to go down in flames last week. He's lucky. He's dead.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Sunday Feeling

I tend to forget Father's Day. I was 21 when my own father died. That was a long time ago. I don't tend to remember it until I walk into a clothing or sporting goods store this time of year. Then I kind of go "ohhhhh yeah." Then I go see what's on sale.

As I have said before, most Dads I know could pretty much take Father's Day or leave it. I mean, they appreciate being with the family and all, but most guys I know are not terribly comfortable being fussed over.

But that's the way Dads are for the most part. God knows, men and women think differently. And when it comes to family life, it has been my impression that Moms are like drill instructors whereas if Dads show up on time, pay the bills, do the yard and reach the stuff on the top shelf they have got it about halfway licked. Of course, I simplify. But it is a low bar from what I hear.

And I have heard a lot in my day. I have heard a lot fairly recently.

Two of my brothers are Dads. And from what I can see, they are both alike in that they take a pretty laid back approach to their respective jobs. One has an Aspergers kid that requires a little more "hands on" work than the other two nephews still in the house with my brother in Conway. But they are both pretty patient and calm. The one in Conway takes after mother in that he is something of a worrier. But that's OK. The one here in Little Rock is like me in that we tend cause a lot more anxiety than we experience personally. That's OK too.

I don't much think about how I might have turned out as a parent. Mainly, there's no point to such idle ruminations. And furthermore, I am more interested in concentrating on the second part of my life rather than thinking of what might have been.

But as I have said before, I think I would have been OK.

I got a Facebook "friend request" the other day from a kid who used to hang around over here. R was all of 5 when I first met him. Now he's 10. And he has a Facebook page. Oh brave new world that has such people in it.

It was a pleasant surprise to hear from him. It's a small gesture, but it's nice to know the kid still likes me.

I must have done something right. I got that going for me. It's a small gesture but life is made up of small gestures. I will take it.

Good to hear from you son.

Shameless Plug Department: "Tales From The South" airs next Thursday night on local educational station KUAR FM 89.1. The show starts at 7pm CDT and is simulcast on the Internet at . This will be the "Father's Day Show" and I will be one of the authors reading a story. Hope you enjoy it.

Friday, June 19, 2009

You Know You Have Done Screwed Up When....

The Securities and Exchange Commission thinks they can prove that you stole 8 billion dollars by a preponderance of the evidence. The prosecutors, have a tougher standard. They have to to prove your guilt beyond the shadow of a reasonable doubt. Faced with the more stringent proof requirements the prosecutors were forced to indict you for stealing an amount less than the 8 billion the SEC is suing you over.

They indicted you for stealing 7. That's when you know you have done screwed up.

Oh. Those depositions they are going to Notice you up for in the civil case? They are taken under oath. Which gives you the opportunity to do two things: You can tell them your side of the story and expose yourself to additional charges of perjury or at the very least provide really juicy fodder for cross examination. Or you can take the 5th which, while it can't be used against you in the criminal case, creates an adverse implication that answering the question would be against your best interests in the civil case.

Hell, the money's probably been all pissed away by now. Accordingly, the prosecutors will be lookin' to get it out of your ass, as they say.

I bet you take the 5th in the civil case.

Boy. You have done screwed up.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

My Sunday Feeling

" I know there are many other similar events planned around the country as long as abortion remains legal." Scott Roeder, accused of murder of Dr. George Tiller.

"I do feel I'm not guilty. I don't think it was murder because murder is when a person kills another person without justified reason." Abdul-Hakim Mujahid Muhammed, accused of the murder of Pvt. William A. Long, USA, reportedly in retaliation against the U.S. military's action in the Middle East.

I am not exactly in my element when I discuss the criminal law. But I did happen to pass that section of the bar exam in the process of obtaining a license. And I happen to know the telephone numbers of a number of practitioners on both sides of the aisle as well as investigators if I have a question.

In any event, I know a hell of a lot more about the defense of legal justification than either Messeurs Roeder and Muhammed. And you can add to that list elderly whack job James Von Brunn who evidently decided the best way he could call attention to the plight of disenfranchised white Christians was to walk into the National Holocaust Museum with a rifle a' blazin'.

I leave to others the question of whether this uptick in violence-for lack of a better word spurred by political ideology-represents a trend. As suspicious as 3 events in a short timeframe may be, I don't think we can know that just yet. Further, I have read certain otherwise sane commentators express that perhaps certain hate speech should be investigated and/or regulated. I'm sorry. Even nuts have a 1st Amendment right to say or think any damn fool thing they want.

No. Today I'm going to confine my remarks to the defense of legal justification. And why it isn't applicable to the 3 crimes mentioned above. And if that's the best they got-and I suspect it is-these 3 mutts have got a major league problem insofar as their immediate future as free men is concerned.

Boiled down to its simplest, legal justification is when you commit an otherwise illegal act in furtherance of a ostensibly legal purpose. The defense of self-defense is the most common example of the defense of legal justification. I am not permitted by the law to strike you in the head with the 3 iron I have sitting by my front door. That would be assault with a deadly weapon except that a 3 iron in my hands is pretty useless. However, if you are breaking into my house, I am entitled to defend myself.

Here's another example: Suppose you are walking down the street and see a man beating a woman. The law does not allow you to walk up and punch somebody in the nose just for the heck of it. However, if you assault somebody in the process of helping a victim of a crime, you may invoke the defense of legal justification.

You may be saying to yourself at this point of the lecture, " Gee. You hardly ever see anybody raise legal justification as a defense." You would be correct. This is because if I brain some asshole while he is breaking into my house I will not be charged with anything in the first place. Which brings us to the larger problem that the 3 legal scholars who are the subject of this dissertation have before them.

You have every right not to like African-Americans and Jews. This does not mean that you get to open fire in a museum. You may oppose American military action in the Middle East. This does not mean that you can shoot a couple of Army buddies taking a smoke break outside a recruiting station.

Finally, you may sincerely and fervently oppose abortions. Millions of God-fearing and law abiding people do. You may believe in your heart that abortion is murder. It is not. As Mr. Roeder candidly and stupidly admitted to the press, he knew that it is legal to obtain and perform abortions. If abortion is legal it is by definition not murder. And he was not justified in taking his perverse interpretation of "the law" into his own hands.

The fact that you are disaffected, have an unusually exalted sense of your status a tool for a higher religious or political purpose, or are just plain mean as hell may provide you with a reason for committing acts of violence that the real world rightly regards as completely off-the-charts insane.

Your belief that you are special will not provide you with much in the way of a legal defense.


Sunday, June 07, 2009

Where The Hell Was Security?

Some idiot who calls himself Jimmy Jump injected himself into the 2nd set of today's French Open Finals between Roger Federer and Robin Soderling. This could have been really scary.

Watch how the chair umpire gets to the court before security shows up. And watch Soderling's "You OK?" gesture he gives Federer after Jimmy is carted off.

Again, this could have turned out really badly. French Open security isn't talking as of this writing but you have to figure that head's are gonna roll just like they did at one time in French history not too far from Stade Roland Garros.

My Sunday Feeling

One of our more prominent local "life coaches" was on the radio the other day. I guess he is relatively prominent. He was on the radio and I was not. He was talking personal finance in his capacity as a Dave Ramsey certified financial counselor.

Is this a great country or what? You can make money by obtaining-or hell-giving yourself semi-fake credentials. Dave Ramsey, as you may know, has made quite a name for himself as a TV and radio financial advisor. From what I can tell, his advice tends to be sound but not terribly nuanced. Debt bad. Savings good. Hard to argue with that.

And, unlike the crooks who try to sell "one size fits all" investment products to the elderly at luncheons, Ramsey's not peddling snake oil. In any event, if you have a mind to, you can pay to attend a seminar put on by his organization and become a "certified" financial counselor. Not exactly snake oil. Not exactly an MBA or a Certified Life Underwriter either.

Anyway, I got to the broadcast just as the Dave Ramsey certified life coach was winding down his segment. And he told the listening audience that the wise guru actually said that a Depression would not be such a bad thing because it would build character for modern folks just like it did for those folks back in the Twenties.

In my history book, the Great Depression was a calamity of the highest magnatude. Banks failed. People lost businesses and farms. Soup kitchens and bread lines provided subsistence to countless families. Stockbrokers jumped out of windows. There was no more romantic witness to this time than Studs Terkel. Studs Terkel did not look back on the Depression with wistfulness. Anybody that doesn't realize that needs to spend some time with the works of John Dos Passos, Steinbeck, Nelson Algren and the aforementioned Mr. Terkel.

But Ramsey can say with presumably a straight face that a Depression wouldn't be such a bad thing because a) we're not in a Depression b) we're not going to be in a Depression and c) he's got a product to sell. Which makes such a statement merely irresponsible and cynical. And that's where the financial planning aspect of the Dave Ramsey phenomenon becomes like unto the revival tent where the faith healer is working the crowd. The history of American junk culture is replete with cultural icons who spew such unadulterated nonsense without fear of contradiction from the acolytes in their listening audience. Twas ever thus. They just get better market share in the age of cable and the Internet than Oral Roberts ever did.
In this great land of ours, you can call yourself anything you want. Indeed, I have long referred to myself as a "life coach" but only because it amuses me and my little friends. I may start referring to my self as an aromatherapist for the same reason.

But if I am going to seek financial advice I will go to somebody who is bonded and holds a certification that is actually subject to a regulatory body which I strongly suspect none of Ramsey's "certified" disciples are.

And I will also retain one who doesn't think a global financial disaster builds character.